PART 8 THE CHURCH OF GOD OR CHURCH OF MAN

Wed, 05/18/2022 - 7:00pm

PART 8 THE CHURCH OF GOD OR CHURCH OF MAN

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WHAT CONSTITUTES UNGODLY TEACHINGS AND CHARACTER?

Sometimes it’s not enough to know what constitutes godly teachings and character unless there’s ample clarity in detail of such that has been provided so that what comprises ungodly teachings and character can easily be identified and recognized. And whatever we happen to find out will be classified as “disqualified” teachings and conduct in the checklist that will be provided in the next chapter. This would mean that the box in the checklist indicating support either for ordination or co-laboring with leadership would not be checked. Are you ready to join me on a search to find that which negates approval? Let’s get started. Please turn in you Bibles to the book of Romans.

 

Suggested Reading: Romans 1:1-32

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

There are many people, whether church leaders or not, that hold the truth in unrighteousness. The word hold in Greek can mean hinder. And the word truth could mean the existence of God. While God has revealed to all mankind His existence through creation, there are three reasons mentioned here why so many people don’t believe that He exists.

The first has to do with the word ungodliness which means that they’re involved in I worship, probably intended here to express atheism, polytheism, and idolatry of every kind.91 Second, is the word unrighteousness that tells us that whether in heart, speech, or behavior [they’re] occupied with everything contrary to strict morality.92 And finally, the words in unrighteousness means that the truth of a supreme being is obstructed by their iniquity.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

The result of their depravity is that God gave them over to a reprobate mind. What characterizes a reprobate mind? A reprobate mind is a mind in which the divine distinctions of right and wrong are confused and lost. This begs the question. How does someone know what thoughts, words, and actions are considered right or wrong? Simple. Scripture will tell us.

26-27 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Some of these people will advocate for vile affections. These words mean to have the wrong kind of sexual desires, i.e., cravings to engage in lesbian or homosexual relationships.

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

While there are many ungodly qualities of character mentioned, another sexual practice that’s cited is fornication. What this refers to are all sexual contact between the sexes which is beyond the bounds of lawful marriage.93 Therefore, this would also include adultery, pedophilia, fornication, prostitution, and incest.

What else should we be on the guard for in respect to ungodly teachings or behavior? Please stay in the same book and go to chapter 13. As I was noticing various Scriptures, while I was perusing over the pages in my pocket Bible, this particular verse stood out to me.

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

This tells us that Love worketh no ill to his neighbour. The word neighbour could mean anyone. However, let’s apply this as pertaining to those in church leadership that are acting in such a manner toward any member of the assembly of the saints. If they were indeed worketh…ill, then what this means is that they were acting dishonestly and criminally toward them. The word dishonestly means to act fraudulently (by trickery… or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage94).

What we’ll take a look at next has to with a newcomer teacher who comes along and teaches that which is counterfeit and false. Please turn to the book of 2 Corinthians and find out what messaging would constitute this classification.

 

2 Corinthians 11:4

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

The Apostle Paul was warning the believers at Corinth to be careful when a preacher comes along and conveys teachings that aren’t true and genuine. He classifies what they falsely convey in three areas.

 

  • Preacheth another Jesus

This refers to His identity. They claim that He was merely a prophet or teacher but nothing more. Some might even declare that He’s God’s Son but not God the Son.

 

  • Receive another spirit

Those who teach about Christ in this manner will nullify the receiving of the indwelling Spirit. They’ll proclaim that there’s another way for someone to become holy or sanctified. Usually, this involves some sort of self-effort. Obey the commands of leadership. Do good works in the name of God. Obey certain aspects of the Mosaic Law.

 

  • Another gospel

A different gospel other than repentance for sins and belief in Christ in order to receive the Holy Spirit and obtain entrance into heaven at physical death is presented. Most, if not all of these false gospels require some measure of human effort that’s believed to gain God’s favor. In certain instances, strict guidelines are presented which must be followed to a T in order to gain entrance to an eternal holy resting place when our time here on this earth is up. This could also involve the implementation of a ritual such as water baptism or obeying a legalistic system of dos and don’ts such as obeying many of the tenets of the institution of the Jews called the Mosaic Law.

In case you weren’t aware of this, the identity of Jesus, sanctification by the Spirit, and gospel salvation are hotly contested doctrines in the sphere of world religions. Hopefully, this study will provide a spiritual guide where believers will be able to recognize the correct teachings about each one of these topics and make a determination to no longer sit under these kinds of destructive teachings.

Another kind of instruction that inhibits the ministry of the Holy Spirit is found in the book of Galatians. Please go there.

 

Galatians 3:3

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

I can’t tell you how many churches that I’ve visited which operate in this manner. The Apostle Paul was shocked by the sudden detour from the faith that the Galatian believers had taken. He called them foolish (unwise). Why? Because as they had begun in the Spirit (having been renewed by the Spirit; sanctified in some measure by him; and had submitted themselves to the spiritual influences of the gospel),95 they were now made perfect (going on to spiritual maturity) by the flesh (by depending upon self-effort in an attempt to obey an outward legalistic system of works).96

Unfortunately, many churches operate in this manner because it’s what they’ve been taught. We believe what we know. Becoming a mature believer in Christ is determined by obeying what leadership says will bring favor to God. Good works become the mantra.

There’s another book that talks about false teachings. Let’s find out what these are all about by proceeding to the book of Titus.

 

Titus 1:10-11

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.

The Apostle Paul was warning a fellow disciple named Titus, whom some commentators believe was a pastor, to go to Crete and ordain elders and reminding him of their qualifications and the need for those who became ordained to address some in the church, Judaizers, Jewish Christians, that were causing severe harm to the ministry. He said that these believers were unruly (disobedient to sound doctrine), vain talkers (what they said impressed people, but it had no content or substance),97 and deceivers (mind-deceivers).

He continued on and said that their mouths (what they’re saying) needed to be stopped (silenced by ex-communication), because they were subverting whole houses (turning Christian families from their faith) and teaching things that they shouldn’t (every kind of [corruptions] when [there’s] a turning aside from the desire of edification;98 to inculcate such doctrines as will make themselves popular, and as will give them access to the confidence of the people99), for filthy lucre’s sake (for financial profit). They acted like celebrities and not servants. They "lived it up" at the expense of their followers, and (true to human nature), their followers loved it!100

Even though the context involved Jewish Christians, as an application, this could pertain to any religious leader.

The next section of Scriptures for us to look at talks about both false prophets and false teachers. These are found in the book of 2 Peter.

 

Suggested reading: 2 Peter 2:1-22

2 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

The Apostle Peter was addressing the Jewish and Gentile believers who had believed the gospel in different countries. He warned them about certain leaders, whom he called false prophets and teachers that are among them, who’ve secretly conveyed damnable heresies. I’ve never heard about these kinds of teachings, have you? What are they? They’re self-chosen doctrines, not emanating from God.              

Furthermore, they decided on denying the Lord that bought them. The Greek word for bought is the same for two other occurrences of this word in the epistles and refers to those who are saved 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23. Were they saved? It appears that these consisted in an inadequate view of the Person and Work of Christ, and their relation to the problem of human sin."101 Another rendering of the word denying is that it means to deny Jesus master and Lord by immorality under a cloak of religion. What else does Scripture tell us about them?  

18-19 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.                                                                  

They’re known for speaking great swelling words of vanity. These are referred to as being high-sounding pretentious words that are devoid of truth. And what these words do is allure (entice) new converts by encouraging fleshly desires that promote much wantonness (excessive and uncontrolled morality; sexual acts other than lawful marriage are presented as legitimate expressions of Christian freedom).

While they promised (proclaimed) them liberty, i.e., the liberty to do as one pleases, they became servants of corruption (their immoral desires make slaves of them).      

Well, I have one final section of Scriptures to present to you in regard to false teachings. Please go to the book of 1 John.

                                                                                                                                                                 

1 John 4:1-3

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

The Apostle John is addressing false prophets who claim that Jesus did not come in the flesh. This means that they don’t believe that Jesus is God come in the flesh.

Now, we have a better idea as to what constitutes some of the false teachings and attitudes that would exclude any Christian from ordination to the leadership office of a pastor. We’ve also become aware of the kinds of teachings and behavior that shouldn’t characterize those church leaders who’ve already been ordained. So, where do we go from here?

In the next chapter, we’ll take a look at a spiritual checklist that will contain quantifiable elements of conduct, foundational teachings, and responsibilities that should characterize church leaders that I’d classify as being Spirit-filled. I’ll also include disclaimers which will indicate that such and such isn’t reflective of godly teaching or character.

Are you ready to take a look at this listing or Bible rating that will help you determine whether the church you are attending or will attend will equip you with the appropriate spiritual armor that will help you become all that God desires for you to be? I am. But hold on!

Before you turn to the following chapter, I’d like to leave you with an article that pertains to ungodly leadership. When I read this, it didn’t necessarily talk about looking for false teachings or ungodly behavior but provided some practical insights as to what kind of initial responses that you should look for by those who are already members of the new church that you’ve decided to attend.

 

3 SIGNS OF BAD CHURCH LEADERSHIP

May 6, 2020 by Alison Cook

What are the signs of bad church leadership versus church leaders who are healthy?

A church is like any family. It’s comprised of wounded people. The presence of wounds does not make or break a church or a family. It’s what we do with them that makes the difference.

In healthy families, each member manages their own struggles with care and commits to the ongoing process of healing. Other families sadly take a different path and become dysfunctional, toxic, or abusive. Parents take the lead [in] determining which direction a family will take. Did you know this [same process] happens within a church family? That’s why it’s important to notice the signs of bad church leadership.

A church family is an important place to grow, give and receive care, and learn about God’s love. But, just like a family with absentee or abusive parents, when the church leadership turns toxic, the results are incredibly damaging to hearts, souls, and minds. I understand why people step away from church [all together] for certain reasons]. The pain from being hurt by a church family can be devastating.

It’s wise to guard your heart when [entering any] kind of relationship, even a relationship with a church family. If you’re unsure how to identify toxic behavior within a church, here are [three] signs of bad church leadership that you need to know:

  1. Disrespect for your boundaries

Never rush into getting involved with a new church. It’s important to take [your time when deciding] how, where, and when you want to participate. Beware of any pressure that [forces you] to jump in with both feet.

As a counselor, I recommend saying, [no, thank you,] during the early stages of visiting a church. Here’s why: When you say [“no”] to a request for serving, leading, or joining a church group, [you’ll] quickly identify if your [“no”] can be met with respect.

For example, if you say, [no, thanks, I’m not ready to commit yet,] that response should be honored without any guilt or pressure. But, if a church leader responds to your [“no”] by trying to make you feel guilty, manipulated, or belittled, then that’s a red flag of potentially bad church leadership.

In addition, you [shouldn’t] feel forced to share private details about your life before [you’re] comfortable. Trust takes time to develop. Forced vulnerability [isn’t] healthy vulnerability. It’s manipulation. Instead, maintain a limit around what you share, with whom, and when.

You also shouldn’t be criticized for maintaining certain areas of privacy. For example, if someone asks a personal question such as, [why isn’t your husband with you?] You might simply say, [I’m divorced, or there’s a lot to that story,] without offering any apology or explanation.

Then notice the response.

Can the listener respect you without attempting to pull out further data? Are they willing to earn your trust? Or, do they badger you for more details or jump to assumptions? These are telltale signs that are important to notice.

  1. Disregard for people who are hurting

A church [isn’t] a cruise ship. It’s a hospital for the hurting. Does everyone around you seem to have it all together? Does it feel like you must leave your struggles at the door on Sunday morning? That’s another red flag. Bad church leadership creates an unhealthy culture where people are expected to be perfect.

Instead, look for a church that’s willing to talk about difficult issues, such as depression, doubt, loneliness, and anger. Does the pastor avoid talking about painful subjects from the pulpit? Does he or she say that you should never feel lonely or sad? Notice how church leaders treat people who are struggling. A healthy church encourages [its] members to grow while maintaining a deep understanding that even faithful people who love God experience hard times.

For example, I’ll never forget a church that I attended early on in my twenties. The pastor gave great sermons, but the church members made fun of other people behind their backs. One day, I heard the pastor tell a mocking joke in public about another church member. I was horrified. I had only attended that church for a few months. But, that pastor’s expression of cruelty scarred my mind. Since then, I made it a point to choose a church based on how well the leadership talks about other people when no one is looking.

  1. Lack of humility and openness

Wise church leaders enable space for their congregation to hold various perspectives. But, controlling church leaders expect every member to toe the party line or risk being kicked out. Control can take the form of rigid expectations and demands with little room for nuance or healthy debate. In addition, signs of bad church leadership can take the form of celebrity worship, where everyone is expected to adore the folks on staff.

In any family environment, there should be room for disagreement, especially [in] a church family. Healthy church leaders stand firm on their perspective, but they also show humility. Confident leaders share their [viewpoints], and they also invite rich, respectful dialogue with those who disagree.

For example, ask yourself if it’s okay to tell a church leader, [I’m not sure I agree with that viewpoint.] Will your perspective be met with curiosity? Or, are [you expected] to jump on that leader’s bandwagon? If so, that’s controlling and a key sign of bad church leadership.

Why is this point important? If a church won’t create space for you to engage in hard topics, then how will it help you grow? People don’t heal under the weight of controlling leadership. People heal as [they’re] invited into a healthy, honest relationship.

Even the best of churches will let you down from time to time. But, if you notice signs of bad church leadership, such as manipulation, criticism, or control tactics, then it’s best to cut your losses and leave before it’s too late.

Instead, look for church leadership that respects your boundaries, cares for those who are hurting the most, and exhibits humility with difficult topics. That’s the kind of place where [you’ll] find the healing and spiritual growth that you need.

A church family should be focused on supporting and caring for you as you grow in learning how to love God, love others, and care well for yourself. Choosing which church to attend is a big decision. So, take your time early in the process and pay close attention to what you see.

Don’t let anyone rush you. Get to know a few people and ask a few hard questions, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. It’s okay to move slowly and take your time [with] building trust. If a church tries to rush your commitment, then keep looking. There are plenty of good church families out there.102

                                                                                

Website: http://bit.ly/1RQnYJ8          

 

Endnotes

91Adam Clarke.

92Adam Clarke.

93Adam Clarke.    

94Dictionary.com.

95Barnes.

96Weust.

97The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.

98Calvin.

99Barnes.

100The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.                                                  

101Wuest.      

102Alison Cook. “3 SIGNS OF BAD CHURCH LEADERSHIP,” 17 February 2022 <https://bit.ly/3rUMiT9>.